As I was going through my CD collection this afternoon, I came across my Shinedown CDs. I decided to play them today for old time’s sake and by the very first note of “Fly From The Inside” from their debut, Leave A Whisper, it was like nostalgia central. I haven’t listened to those albums in forever. My taste in music has made a drastic change since I first purchased their debut back in 2004. Some say my taste is super bipolar, but I’m proud of that. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but allow me to sift through my thoughts as I attempt on telling a story. Try listening to the songs afterwards to grasp everything.
As I listened to all four of Shinedown’s albums, I noticed something incredibly inspiring that not many bands are capable of: they’ve changed – and not in the way most people would describe “change” nowadays with words like “sellouts” or “they just don’t sound the same; it’s not the same band I once loved.” Shinedown’s sound may be similar to when they first started, but that’s okay with me. They have that hard rock sound that I’ve always loved but with a southern bluesy edge that I just can’t quite put into words. They changed in the way of lyrical content. Maybe I’m not “educated” enough on this subject and I should shut my mouth but in my honest opinion, most hard rock bands don’t evolve lyrically. It’s mostly all dragged out emotional turmoil or sex infused TMIs that don’t have any indications of making a turnaround. At least this is what I’ve experienced with bands I’ve owned records of in the past. When their debut, Leave A Whisper, came out in 2003, their lyrics consisted of pain and self-deprecation, except for the occasional “Fly From The Inside” and “Crying Out” anthems, but somehow, at that time, I will honestly say that I was not buying that for one second; maybe because I hadn’t yet felt “the weight of the world on my shoulders” lifted off. I guess Brent Smith (lead singer/songwriter) was hoping he’d feel that way someday as well.
By 2005, Shinedown released their sophomore effort, Us and Them, and along with band and drug related issues, it’s needless to say that while that album is still epic, I still feel as if they wanted to see that light at the end of the tunnel but they hadn’t reached that point yet. Songs like “Save Me” and “Shed Some Light” are perfect depictions of this notion but I felt that they knew they needed to dig deeper in order to reach “steal the sun from the sky.” Regardless, Us and Them was played every night after school and I’ll never forget how their lyrical sorrow mirrored my own at the time.
In 2008, a major growth had arrived in not just me, but the band as well. They released their third album, The Sound of Madness, and I couldn’t have been more ready. My pain subsided and I was so much stronger for it. This album embodies what it was like to be miserable for so many years and to come out on the other side. With lyrics like “I created the sound of madness, wrote the book on pain, somehow I’m still here to explain” shows a sense of wisdom in the fact that you can survive these things and come out wiser and stronger in the end but make no mistake that you are still healing. The days of hiding in your shell of misery are over. Since then, I’ve also grasped the meanings of “Fly From The Inside” and “Crying Out” which was once hard to do in the past. “Now there’s no turning back now that you’ve opened up to your mind.”
Four years later, in 2012, Shinedown released their fourth album, Amaryllis. The theme of this album, to me, is blooming into the person you were meant to be. With the title track’s lyrics boasting “Ask yourself now where would you be without days like this? When you finally collide with a moment you can’t forget.” They say everyone has that turning point – when you notice a drastic change in who you once were to the newly transformed you. I know I’ve definitely had that one defining moment, and the first time I listened to that song, I felt this overwhelming peace wash over me; it’s all going to be okay now. I get it.
“All the uninvited tragedies, step outside.”
If you’re bored out of your mind right now, I apologize but hey, you still stuck around so thank you! I promise I’ll get to the point in a second. If you’re sitting there fist pumping at your computer and screaming “YESS!!!” then I love you. Kiss your records. All of them. Hug the ones that have comforted you through the years.
My point is, I have grown with Shinedown. I was sad with them. I healed with them. I grew up with them. I matured with them. I’ve grown wiser with them. As their catalog grew, so did I. When you find a band that goes through the motions with you like that, don’t ever let them go. Do not give up on them. It’s rare for a band to be able to do that. Support them by buying their music. It’s the only thank you that we as fans can ever give back to them for making our lives a lot more bearable. If you haven’t found that band yet, keep searching. There are lyrics for every bleeding heart.
Shinedown are the only hard rock band, besides The Pretty Reckless, still in my collection. The others may have revealed who I once was but they never evolved into anything more. As I went through all of those old albums I noticed myself saying “I am not this person anymore.” Needless to say, they needed to go.
“I am focused on what I am after; the key to the next open chapter.”
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